The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness

by Jill Filipovic

Hardcover, 2017



Call number

HQ1206 F4628


Bold Type Books (2017), Edition: 1, 336 pages


"What do women want? It's a time-old question, but if you head out into America and talk to women one-on-one, as Jill Filipovic has done, you discover that what they want is happiness. Despite what recent books, articles, or TV shows would have you believe, real women are less concerned about "having it all," "leaning in," or "settling for 'Mr. Good Enough.'" Unsurprisingly, the way to achieve happiness is as varied as the realities they face. In The H Spot, Filipovic argues that the main obstacle standing in between women and happiness is a rigged system. In this world of unfinished feminism, men have long been able to "have it all" because of free female labor, while the bar of achievement for women has gotten higher. Never before have we had to work so much at every level (whether it's to be an accomplished white-collar employee or just make ends meet), and never before have the requirements for being a "good mother" been so extreme. If our laws and policies made women's happiness and fulfillment a goal in and of itself, she explains, so many contentious issues would be resolved with one fell swoop - from women's health to equal pay. Filipovic illustrates this argument by asking women across America what it is they need, and provides an blueprint for a feminist movement we all need: one that lays out how policy, laws and society can deliver on the promise of the pursuit of happiness for all"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member rivkat
How the intersection between misogyny and America’s anti-pleasure culture makes everything worse. Nothing shocking if you’ve been reading in the feminist blogosphere, but a good overview of everything from work to motherhood to sex to food. Prioritizing one’s own happiness is, for women, a huge and radical act, and one that is likely to draw condemnation from all sides. (See, e.g., internalized misogyny in fandom that combines with ageism.) This isn’t limited to sex, but Filipovic argues that sex is a big part of it. “Lesbians orgasm 75 percent of the time, which is almost as often as men who have sex with women orgasm, suggesting the problem is less the female body than either male sexual aptitude or male sexual effort.” If sex was just good, not shameful and threatening, “the entire experience of womanhood—the definition of womanhood—would be unrecognizable.” But for women, being “good” has too long meant saying no—to sex, to food, to pleasure. Sacrifice and fear—avoiding parties, worrying about attacks in parking lots, wearing high heels, spending hours on makeup—are too central to “womanhood” in America.

And then there’s motherhood: borrowing from Adrienne Rich, Filipovic reminds us that “mothering” is an ongoing action, and “fathering” is an emission, and that’s a big problem. Work as a source of positive identity is a goal: daughters of mothers who work for money are higher-achieving than daughters of mothers who don’t work outside the home, and their sons do more work at home, including childcare. Contrariwise, men whose wives stay at home are more likely to discriminate against female coworkers—Mike Pence to the contrary. Yet high-achieving men are much more likely to assume that their wives won’t work, whereas high-achieving women think that they’ll both work (and are attracted to men with similar ambitions to their own, setting them up for a big clash). Most such men ended up satisfied, while many of their female peers found themselves driven out of the workforce if they married and had children. The problems of poor working women are different and shameful for us as a nation, but also gendered and raced. Poor women lack respect, time, and child care along with money and good work, and these things reinforce each other and are used to blame women for their own situations.
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LibraryThing member bemislibrary
Filipovic writes about the stigmas, barriers, sunk costs, and prospects available to females. She looks at sex, relationships, family, work, and society beliefs. The good news is that there are many more opportunities for women to be happy. The bad news is there are political, sexual, and cultural obstacles to overcome. At the time of publication, adolescent and adult females continued to be subjected to feminine beauty stereotypes through media and interpersonal communications. According to the statistics provided, neatly fifty percent of adult females have been experienced sexual violence during their life. Some will dismiss the author’s arguments as feminist assertions. Her message really boils down to consent. Women giving permission and having say in how they are treated, how they treat others, and how to share basic values as human beings that respect each other.

I was randomly chosen through a Goodreads Giveaway to receive this book free from the publisher. Although encouraged, I was under no obligation to write a review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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LibraryThing member Well-ReadNeck
This non-fiction survey about happiness as it relates specifically to women. Topics include friends, sex and power over our bodies, motherhood, marriage, work, food and body image, and identity. Thorough treatment, but the organization felt off to me (strange order of things) and much of the information is in other happiness books. Good if this is our first volume on the topic. However, if this is a topic you have read about before, likely to be repetitive.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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Original language


Physical description

336 p.; 6.5 inches


1568585470 / 9781568585475
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